When you become eligible for Medicare, all of the options you face can be very overwhelming and your time to decide is limited.  If you have a pre-existing condition, it would be to your best advantage to sign up during this open enrollment.  Why?  During this period, you won’t be asked any questions about your health.  Insurance companies won’t raise your rates, put exclusions on covering pre-existing conditions or decline to accept your application due to health problems.
When you’re deciding what you actually want to sign up for, you have to learn about several coverage options.  There is Original Medicare (which contains Part A hospitalization services and Part B doctor care) and you may want to add a Medicare Supplement Insurance plan (also known as a Medigap Plan) and a Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plan.
Your open enrollment period for Medigap Insurance lasts for 6 months and begins on the first day of the month in which you are 65 and enrolled in Medicare Part B.  While you can enroll in a Medigap Plan at other times, a health problem could result in higher premiums, exclusions on coverage or you might be refused coverage if you have a major medical problem.
Part D Prescription Drug Plans are available to anyone with Medicare Part A or Part B.  You are eligible to enroll during the three months before you turn 65, the month of your birthday and for the next three months after your birth month.  If you don’t enroll then, you may also sign up between October 15 and December 7, 2011.  One thing to remember is that these private insurance plans vary in cost and do not all cover the same medications.  If you’d like some help sorting it all out, just give us a call.  We specialize in how to complete Medicare coverage.  We can research your options and help you match that to your needs and budget.

Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage.